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Bohemian Rhapsody

This week, Oxford’s Ultimate Picture Palace is showing Bohemian Rhapsody (2018). It charts the story of the band Queen from their formation to appearing at the Live Aid concert in 1985. The story is more about Freddie Mercury than Queen as a whole and, from what I know from other sources, shows all the attention to historical accuracy that you would expect from a major movie (which is to say, very little at all).

As history, the film takes liberties. In the future, it might tell historians a little of how Brian May and Roger Taylor (both of whom were involved as “Executive Music Producers”) were willing for the story of the band to be depicted. However, it is really all about the music, which was what took me down to see it.

Meticulous attention was paid to restaging concerts based on existing footage and also creating little cameos of how famous songs began in the rehearsal room. Again, probably not to be trusted for historical veracity but Rami Malek and his confrères put on a remarkable show. There are so many great songs they didn’t even mention (March of the Black Queen? Ogre Battle?) but it would have needed to be a much longer film to do so and most of the big hits got some airing as well as a recreation of the Live Aid performance.

By the time I was old enough to go to concerts, the gigging days for the original line up were pretty much done (and stadium gigs would have been out of my means). However, they were one of the most influential bands on my listening at the time when I was starting to develop as a musician. Not for the story of the band, or of Freddie Mercury, but for revisiting my own history with the music, the film was worth the price of admission.

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